A study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Nursing shows that healthcare workers are more likely to sanitize their hands when an alcohol-based hand sanitizing gel was made available to them as an alternative to soap and water.
Handwashing, or hand antisepsis, rates increased by nearly 44 percent when the healthcare workers had access to the sanitizer. Overall, the hand sanitizer was used in approximately 60 percent of handwashing episodes.
The three-phase observational study was conducted over a five-month period in two intensive care units at the University of California, San Diego, Medical Center.
Before the hand sanitizing gel was introduced, workers were observed washing their hands in 40 percent of patient contact situations. Compliance rates rose to 52 percent six weeks after the hand sanitizing gel was made available. Compliance rates increased to 57 percent ten weeks after the hand sanitizer was installed.
The study also demonstrated that hand sanitizer dispensers mounted in the hallways outside of patient rooms were nearly 30 times more likely to be used than the dispensers mounted anywhere inside the rooms.
According to the study''s authors, the study "attempted to address each of the often-cited explanations given for noncompliance with published guidelines and individual hospital policy: inconvenience, lack of time and the drying effects of repeated use of soap and water on the skin. Gel dispensers were installed at convenient locations throughout the two units under study, and using the gel required less time than did soap and water."
by Melissa Martin